The Importance of Breaks

By Brenda Bethman

If, like me, you work on a campus that follows a semester schedule and also doesn’t have a fall break in October, you likely are currently dealing with zombie students, faculty, and staff. And not because of Halloween, but because at this point in the semester, those of us who didn’t get a mid-semester break are (to put it mildly) exhausted. It’s the time of fall when I start fantasizing about excuses I could use to cancel class (I don’t use them, but I do wish I could some days), when said classes are sparsely attended and the students there lethargic, when faculty and staff have shorter fuses, and when it feels as if Thanksgiving will NEVER get here.

It’s also the time of year that reminds me that taking breaks and practicing self care are just as important as work (and maybe even more so) as it’s the breaks and care that allow us to do the work in the first place. We’ve still got three weeks until Thanksgiving and the longer break that I am craving, though, so in the meantime I’m finding ways, some utilizing technology and some tech-free, to help me take mini breaks. Here are the ways I’m coping at the moment:

  • BreakTime (Mac and iOS): BreakTime is one of my all-time favorite apps. Its use is simple — set a timer that tells you to take a break at pre-determined intervals. To help make the break happen, the app will freeze your computer or phone for the duration of the break so that you can’t ignore the reminder and continue to work. If you have trouble remembering to take breaks, this app is a great way to force yourself to do so. (Windows users can download Breaker, which is a similar app).
  • Exercise (or just move): I traveled a bit more than usual in September and October, which wreaked havoc with my exercise routine — and I am feeling it. For November and December, I am recommitting to spending time in the gym or outdoors as getting exercise and/or fresh air in my day definitely helps with my energy levels. A midday workout or walk is a great way for me to get through the afternoon slump.
  • Take a break from technology: Recently I found that being on Twitter felt more draining than useful, so I drastically scaled back my use of Twitter (to the point where I’m essentially not using it at the moment). Lately, I’ve been thinking about doing the same with Facebook and other social media as it seems that using social media is more stressful than fun at the moment.

What about you? How do you survive “Zombie season” on your campus? Share your tips in the comments!

The Importance of Breaks

Why Student Affairs Professionals Should Care About #GamerGate

By Kathryn Magura

**Warning: this blog post contains content of a violent nature that may unintentionally trigger someone. Please read on with caution.**


I am not a gamer. I do not go online and play video games with other people. Why then would I purport to get involved with an issue called #GamerGate?

Well, for starters, women are being threatened with horrendous crimes because they have chosen to speak out against #GamerGate. Yes, you read that correctly. Women – a growing population in the gaming world – are being threatened with specific threats of violence like gang rape when they choose to speak out against the sexism in gaming. If you are not aware, there is quite a bit of overt sexism in the gaming world. Everything from female characters who are sexualized to bullying women out of the community, it is truly an ugly world to be a part of if you are a woman. That said, some women still choose to partake simply because they love to game. Something they have every right to continue doing.

Women who speak out against #GamerGate face a real threat of being doxxed (which is internet speak for when personally identifying information like address, age, Social Security Number is published) and thusly sent into hiding. Felicia Day, a famous gamer and actress finally spoke out against #GamerGate, and within minutes was doxxed. Men who speak out do not face the same doxxing threats. Why?  This is wrong, and the only way to stop it is to draw more attention to the issue.

For some more context about this issue, those who are pro #GamerGate claim that the issue is about media ethics in gaming. When I first tweeted about #GamerGate:

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 8.22.37 PM

I received quite a few responses from people who defended #GamerGate under the belief that they were defending the need for more ethics in gaming. While I believe these people wholeheartedly believe this version of #GamerGate, they are also incredibly naive to ignore what has happened to the women who speak out against #GamerGate. These atrocities are happening to women only, not the men who also speak out. How is this an issue of gaming ethics??

Newsweek sought out to answer the question of what the root issue of #GamerGate is, and concluded that #GamerGate is about harassing women more than gaming ethics. In 2014 we have blatant sexism running rampant without consequence. THIS IS NOT OK.

So why should Student Affairs professionals care about #GamerGate? Besides the fact that we have women being harassed and threatened, there is a deeper issue at play here. Many of these gamers who are threatening women and sharing their private information are our students. They are our residents on campus. They are the students in our first year seminar classes. They are the students who attend our events (or not).

We have students on our campuses who think it is ok to publish personal information about a woman, or even threaten to rape her, simply because she disagrees with him. This is not ok. We need to reach out to these students and help them see the true value in other human beings. This is not a game. This is reality, and people are getting hurt. The threat is real, and we owe it to these gamers to encourage them to see the difference.

Why Student Affairs Professionals Should Care About #GamerGate

Using Tech to Reflect

By Josie Ahlquist

“It is necessary … for a man to go away by himself … to sit on a rock … and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?”

― Carl Sandburg

Do you ever find yourself scrolling through your old Facebook posts or Instagram pictures?  Reading an old blog or watching a video from years ago?

Before social media I used to scrapbook religiously, at minimum two full books per year.  I wanted to remember.  If used positively, tools such as social media can serve as a scrapbook into your past.

Recently my husband and I celebrated an anniversary, pulling up our honeymoon photos we shared on Facebook.  A flood of memories rushed back as we laughed and reflected.  No scrapbook, just a quick scroll online.  As part of my dissertation I had focus groups with 40 college student leaders.  Many of them also spoke about the enjoyment they had on looking back through social media, a way of tracking events and celebrations.

One social media tool that aids in this reflection is called Timehop.   As noted from their website, Timehop is “A time capsule of you.”  Everyday you get this ‘time capsule’, with anything you posted that day on social media for the last 5-7 years.  You can send these Timehop posts to friends to re-spark the moment that was one shared online.  The next best thing about it, it’s free!

As you look at your personal and professional growth, how can you use technology tools to reflect?  Such as scrolling through your Twitter feed, reviewing photos taken on iPhoto, or pulling up an old paper you wrote in college.   What about for our students?  As noted in my focus groups, students enjoy looking back online.  As student affairs educators, social media reflection can be applied to training and development activities in various settings.

Just looking and thinking about the past isn’t the full process in reflection.  One should take this further, such as journaling or small group dialogue.  Even here technology can aid.  From private online journals like DayOne  and Evernote or group communication tools like Google Hangouts or Skype, tech can be supplemented.  Strategic activities can challenge us to think about Carl Sandburg’s statement, “Who am I, Where have I been, and where I am going.” 

Using Tech to Reflect

The “Future Student Affairs Grad Students” Facebook Community

By Niki Messmore

The process for selecting a graduate program in student affairs is changing. The platform for this change: Future Student Affairs Grad Students (FSAGS), a public Facebook group that boasts 4,093 members as of Oct 21, 2014.

Several years in the making, there are 13 administrators who monitor the page. Members include prospective students, currently enrolled graduate students, recent graduates who joined the group during their graduate program search, and current faculty members. It is a highly active group with 55 posts in the last 7 days.

No longer are students exploring programs through just their personal contacts, but now they have the opportunity to explore programs from around the country with a simple post.

I’ve been observing and participating in the group for around the last two years and it is interesting to consider what impacts it may be creating. Here are a few brief thoughts that require further exploration and discussion:

Observed Benefits

  1. There is an online community for individuals who want to enter student affairs
  2. A variety of schools are represented; top-ranked, regional campus, counseling focus, administrative focus, etc
  3. Great opportunity for current graduate students to take ownership of their experience and engage in mentoring activities with prospective students
  4. Information on #SAgrad programs is notoriously difficult to find (NASPA’s website is ok but not easily accessible). Prospective students can easily inquire about almost any program and almost every post has at least one (or twenty) responses.
  5. The group is accumulating a wealth of user-generated resources, such as database on program assistantships (70 positions/schools & counting) and information on graduate programs.

Areas of Concern

  1. Group think can occur. Some posts (especially around Jan-March) cultivate a hive mind that student affairs as a field already has difficulty shaking.
  2. Unsure what the best course is for rules of engagement. There is a list of SA grad program information with current student contact names, but often prospective students don’t take time to look for the list and post general questions. They literally list 12 schools that they are interested in attending and asks “who goes here?”
    • While this is probably helpful for prospective students, it is time consuming for highly engaged folks who reply to multiple posts and – quite frankly – can be terribly annoying after a while.
  3. Who should be a member? Some prospective and current students post fairly personal thoughts, feelings, experiences, etc. Should assistantship providers and program faculty stay away from this group so the space is safe? Or do they have wisdom to provide?
  4. It can become, at times, a space that straddles the line between shameless self-promotion & helpful information
  5. There’s a reason why we can’t cite Wikipedia: crowd-sourced information isn’t always accurate. Some advice that is provided should probably, well, not.

Follow-up Questions

  1. Is FSAGS a community? The exchanges are often brief Q&A, so it is difficult to tell if authentic relationships are being built across social media. Will these connections last?
  2. Will this impact how SA grad programs market themselves? Should we be providing current students with more ‘marketing’-esque info since they have a more public opportunity to represent our programs? Already some personnel and students are using the group to share their marketing information, like visiting days and webinars.
  3. Are prospective students being authentic? From reviewing posts (quite a few ‘inspirational’ links about leadership), it appears that some may recognize they are being observed by individuals that could impact their opportunity for an assistantship…or is that just who they are?
  4. Will this even the playing ground for lesser-known or newer programs to market their degree and increase applications? Grad programs rate based on reputation. With easily accessible space provided, programs can really get their name out there.

Ultimately, it is a very cool corner of the internet. This group creates further exposure to student affairs, thus possibly increasing awareness to students who may not have considered a masters in higher education. Currently, the group is a wealth of information for navigating the grad school process and it may also increase accessibility for historically underrepresented populations – which is awesome!

Have you had any experiences with the group? Do you think this is a positive addition to the student affairs field? Please comment or tweet me at @NikiMessmore. I’ve been thinking on this group a lot and what it may mean – I would love to hear your perspectives!

The “Future Student Affairs Grad Students” Facebook Community

Are You Ready to Rumble?

By Rachel Luna

October 17 is the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake, which was a 6.9-magnitude tremor that rocked the San Francisco Bay Area, killing 63 people, injuring thousands, and causing billions of dollars in damage.  As a native Californian who currently lives in the footprint of the Hayward fault – one of four “highly stressed seismic faults… [that] could rupture at any time” – I have a personal stake in this issue.  Not to mention I spend six to eight Saturdays each year sitting in a stadium that is bisected by the aforementioned fault as I watch my beloved Cal Bears play football.

Recently, I took to the internet to help with my emergency prep plans. Even if you don’t live in an earthquake-prone area, preparing for disasters is probably a good thing so I figured I’d share some highlights from my research:

  • The “Text First. Talk Second.” campaign from Safe America Foundation is a good strategy to remember for any emergency that might disrupt power or communication systems.  Side note: If your campus has an emergency text alert system, you might consider signing up for that.
  • I curated a list some helpful Twitter accounts related to disaster preparation, including national organizations and government agencies like @Readygov.  Of the many local emergency entities on Twitter, @EmergencyPrepBC (based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) was my favorite thanks to their fun #PreparednessNinja images like this one about “drop, cover, and hold on.
  • Disaster prep doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom either.  For earthquake-specific fun, test your knowledge while playing the Beat the Quake game from the Southern California Earthquake Center.  Then, embrace your culinary side with the Emergency Kit Cook-Off.  This playful perspective on emergency planning resulted in a handful of recipes that look surprisingly decent.
  • For the app-happy folks among us, check out the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app and mobile-enhanced webpage [free, iOS, Android, and Blackberry] or the American Red Cross’s suite of mobile apps [free, iOS and Android] which includes disaster-specific options so you can download what’s most relevant.

If crawling under a desk or table for an earthquake drill isn’t your thing, you could instead spend a few minutes reviewing your campus emergency procedures, creating a communication plan with your family, or refreshing supplies in your emergency supply kit.  Happy prepping!

P.S. I offer up Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” as a soundtrack for this post as it was stuck in my head the entire time I was writing it.

Are You Ready to Rumble?

My love affair with my new Macbook Pro.

by Jennifer Keegin

This semester I had an epic decision to make. A new office laptop was needed for new duties I’m taking on at the University. Traveling from meeting to meeting, I could take an iPad, but I was using more than Evernote, I was having to access websites and show my screen to attendees to help them visualize projects. I wanted something light and portable yet powerful.

When I headed to Best Buy to look at options, I noticed the array of touch screen versions on the market. The thing was, I had purchased just months before a Sony Vaio for the AV closet in the University Union and had purchased it for the small size, “foldable” style and touch screen. For the purposes I bought it for – it worked. However, for an every day laptop – touch screen wasn’t necessary. I mean, there’s the iPad if I really need to touch something. I have also had a touch screen computer screen (all in one unit) and it was totally unnecessary.

I’m a 13″ laptop type of gal and while I was appreciating the large screens, I like a smaller frame. As I was browsing, I hit upon the Macs and just sighed. I haven’t used a Mac since I was in college and I’ve been a little hesitant to work with one. Using an iPhone or an iPad (or an iPod for that matter) are all different than using a Macbook. Different iOS, different way of saving things – but I’ve always wanted to jump back in.

The sales guy showed me how the newest iOS for Macbook allows you to utilize the Pages and Numbers programs and yet save them in other formats, which I didn’t realize you could do. I’ve always heard about conversion issues and things like, “Well I have a Mac so it just doesn’t work the same.” I was wary of getting into something that wouldn’t be compatible with PCs since that’s what all of my colleagues in the Dean of Student use. It’s just my new colleagues in the Marketing & Communications that brandish the Macs.

I also got a student discount with my University email address. So that settled it and I purchased the best laptop I’ve ever owned. (Ok, the University owns it but you know what I mean).

I have never brought home a laptop, opened it up, turned it on and just used it. There’s always programs to be loaded, security programs to be run, different browsers to download, files to be transferred. I feel spoiled with this Macbook. For me it was definitely an iPad killer. I really adore it. I take it everywhere and love being able to open it and pretty much have it just come on and it’s ready to go.

I’m sure many of the younger readers today probably had a Macbook in college, most of the Binghamton students do – but – I’m old and in college I had a word processor, than used computer lab computers, and didn’t own my own laptop until graduate school and that one only did word processing. Owning a laptop has always been a big deal to me and finding the best one for me has been a sort of obsession. I’ve purchased lots of laptops for my office and etc. and this one, hands down is my favorite.

My love affair with my new Macbook Pro.

Four Years and Counting

by Kristen Abell

Roughly four years ago, Brenda Bethman and I started this collaborative blog as a place for women to blog about technology and student affairs when no other such place existed, when women were hardly seen in the student affairs technology space at all. Since then, we’ve published almost 600 posts and worked with many awesome women in technology. Some have started their own blogs. Some have gone on to do speaking and consulting about technology in student affairs or other things. We think all of them are pretty incredible.

As we head into our fifth year of blogging here at Student Affairs Women Talk Tech, expect to see more great things from all of us ladies. We’ll be adding some information about opportunities to have us come speak at your institution, giving you chances to see us live on the interwebs, and maybe even let you hear our voices from time to time. And of course, there will be more great blogging coming your way, too.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating our four years of fabulousness and stick around for even more great things to come.

Cheers to these amazing women!

Four Years and Counting